Friday, February 11, 2011

First day in the brace: Outclassed

I couldn't wait until this weekend. Yesterday I went to the gym in my new knee brace to "shoot around and do drills." So I shot around and did drills--for about an hour. Then players started showing up. The first time I was asked to play I politely declined. But the second time I was asked I eagerly accepted. How many times can you put drugs in front of an addict and expect him to refuse?

The main reason I decided to play was that the game looked soft. Most of the players were undergrads and they were not particularly good. If there was any game I was going to be able to play in, this was the one.

My stat line from that game: 0 points (0 for 0 shooting), 0 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 turnover. I assisted on every one of our team's baskets in a losing effort. One of the assists was a sweet behind the back pass through two defenders. I take responsibility for the turnover, although a better big man would have caught it and laid it in.

This game was both encouraging and frustrating. I was encouraged to realize that I could still defend, handle the ball, and pass. But I was frustrated to realize that I was not able to get any decent looks because of reduced mobility and psychological issues related to my knee. I decided to try playing in another game.

But the game suddenly changed. All the mediocre undergrads left and better players took over. This happens a lot at our school gym. The goofy games run from 4:00-5:30, but then all the grown-ass men get out of work and show up. Between 5:30 and 8:00, the games are very competitive. Still, I wanted to see what I could do against better players. The answer: basically nothing.

My stat line from the second game: 0 points (0 for 0 shooting), 0 rebounds, 1 assist, 2 turnovers. It wasn't that I was tired. The game just got too good for me. My defender was significantly better than the kid who had guarded me the first game. My teammates were also much better this time around, pushing me far down the offensive hierarchy. Everyone was much better this time around. I was simply outclassed.

I am ok with this. I'm just coming back after a two month layoff. I have spent a lot of time learning to accept age and infirmity. I play because I love to play. Despite feeling limited and old yesterday, I had so much fun. And last night, for the first time in a long time, I dreamed about playing basketball.

5 comments:

Eric said...

Well, look at it this way: first day back after a lay-off due to a serious injury, knee brace or not, I'm sure would have been accompanied with similar anxieties and doubts.
At least it sounds like you've figured out how to just "play", for the love of the game, instead of for the love of kicking butts :) Props for that!!!!

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Eric said...

Well, go my MRI results back today (finally opted for private out-of-pocket intervention, as public was taking too long)...

The good news is, I'm not a puss; thought that the level of pain I'd felt was off the chart, and then wondered if I hadn't just gotten "softer" with age...

The bad news is: complete ACL and meniscal (lateral and medial) tears!!!!

The worst part of course is that everything I've worked on over the last two months, I'll have to work on again, after the surgery, whenever that ends up being?!?!?! Of course, I know that this rehab was necessary, regardless... Just wish I was still a college athlete, with instant access to surgery, so the whole process would only involve one phase of rehab!!!!!

Hopefully, my wife (a physio) can pull some strings for me. She definitely could with one surgeon (who doesn't come as highly recommended unfortunately, especially considering the extent of my injury), but the 2 or 3 best surgeons, as you would expect, have a very long waiting list...

Ah well... Maybe it's time to live vicariously through my 3-year old son??? At least for the time being...

Jeff said...

Eric,
I'm so sorry! Terrible news. Please keep us updated.

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